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May 29, 2014

I recently overheard that “no one in LA reads books. We see lots of movies, though.” I also overheard a girl at a bar say, “I just came from ballet class. Well, it was cardio barre, but I like to call it ballet.” I’m not entirely sure those are related, but let’s talk about culture in Los Angeles for a second…or culture in 2014, actually. In Annie Hall, Alvy says, “I don’t want to live in a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right on red” and I grew up believing that, but it’s not the case. As in any major city, especially one so jam-packed with creative types, Los Angeles has myriad cultural offerings beyond “just going to the movies”. In the world we live in, creative people are creating content, music, words, art, and expression all around us, it’s just about deciding how to spend your time.

We live in a strange age where one can spend an entire day in front of a computer, commute home from work with iPhone updates all the while, and get home to order dinner on said phone and then spend the rest of the night watching critically acclaimed TV shows and still not even have gotten through the first season of Game of Thrones. The pressure (mostly due to social media) to have your finger on the pulse of all things culturally significant is as strong as your own connectivity. But what about all those books you wanted to read? What about all those bands you wanted to see when they came to town? What about the fact that you missed “Book of Mormon” when it was at the Pantages for an extended run?

In getting to know someone, and that person could be yourself, it is important to explore what they do when given free time. Is she the type of person who immediately turns on the TV? Is he someone who goes for a bike ride? Am I someone who puts on an album I love and then take out a pen and a notebook and just write? Are they a couple who checks out a comedy show? Does it matter? Can you be someone who does all of this? Yes, of course! In my opinion, however, it does matter. Not in a pretentious way, because who am I to judge how other people spend their free time? The way that we choose to advance our minds, or put them to rest, or find a creative outlet is what helps us to grow and expand our world view. Keeping a finger on the pulse of popular culture is important to some people and unimportant to others, but I would argue strongly against anyone who claims that we are, as a society both here in The US and around the world, deteriorating and uninspired slackers. Through technological innovation, the way that just about everything is multi-platform (you can watch a TV show while following along with tweets from the cast!), and the new, faster ways that we get our news through various media outlets, we are living in a very different world than our grandparents and we are finally starting to take advantage of that across all platforms.

I had a moment last night, while watching a band I knew nothing about, play a song I had never heard before, in a venue that I’ve been to many times, drinking a drink that I order all the time, where nostalgia hit me. Nostalgia for the moment I was currently in. This band was good, and they were so exuberant and enthusiastic and genuinely talented, and the guy in front of me had on a pair of cream colored Converse that were just a little bit broken in, and I realized that looking back on these years, the cluster of late-twenties years that I’m in the middle of right now, the memories would always taste like bourbon and sound like indie rock and feel like not blind-ambition, but this earned hope. A hope that has roots in hard work and talent and a can-do attitude. It’s this can-do attitude that our generation gets flack for sometimes, usually under the name “entitlement”, but it isn’t just entitlement that fuels Gen Y. What is beautiful about today’s culture and our generation is that when our can-do attitude meets real talent and hard work and when we figure out who we are, and what type of person we want to be…we can start to make beautiful music.

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  1. culture | Tinseltown Times

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